By 2050, the world’s population is expected to expand to 9 billion people. Natural resources are diminishing, yet the demand continues to grow. As a group, It's imperative that we find ways to achieve a decent standard of living for all humans without threatening the needs of future generations. The United Nations believes they can help accomplish this through sustainability.
Sustainability is directly connected to humankind’s basic right to social justice, fairness and a better quality. Understanding this, the United Nations is committed to finding sustainable solutions and exploring better ways to use water, food and energy. The U.N.’s plan for sustainable development of cities is one way it's addressing our population’s rapidly growing need for a sustainable existence.
With the mission of promoting sustainable human settlements development, the U.N. has set a number of specific goals for the sustainable development of cities:
The culture, science, productivity, social development and big ideas of our major cities provide countless sustainability possibilities. Still, there are many challenges in front of the U.N. achieving these goals in a manner that fosters job growth and prosperity while still protecting the environment and its resources.
Congestion, housing shortages, declining infrastructures and lack of funding are hurdles that must be addressed in discussions about sustainably developing cities. These challenges are worth tackling, however, given the long-term benefits and necessity of urban sustainability.
The U.N.’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative seeks to improve efficiency, make modern energy services universally accessible and increase usage of our renewable sources. Energy use accounts for about 60% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions, and this initiative aims to significantly reduce carbon footprints. Sustainable energy can give cities the opportunity to transform their economies, improve lives and tend to the long-term health of the planet.
Access to clean water is also a big focus of the U.N.’s sustainability plan. The world has enough fresh water for everyone, but because of poor infrastructure or economics, millions of people – mostly children – die every year because of poor water supplies, hygiene and sanitation. One project currently in the works involves the U.N. assisting several African nations by optimizing the use of a major underground aquifer, the Nubian aquifer system and improving water resource management.
Climate change is contributing to the degradation of oceans, freshwater, forests, soils and biodiversity, and is also increasing the risk of agricultural disasters like flooding and droughts. Revisiting how food is grown, shared and consumed is one way to combat this trend. The U.N.’s Zero Hunger Challenge also presents an ambitious plan for a future in which no person is hungry.
Its objectives include:
By working with governments and other partners, the U.N. hopes to shape its sustainable development framework so that the basic needs of our planet and its people are met adequately, social justice continues to advance and the environment is protected for generations to come.